What is Eustress?

3 April 2024 dot 6-minute read
Healthy Mind Live Well Living healthy Managing stress
Embracing eustress can help you to grow emotionally, physically, and even psychologically. (Credit: Shutterstock)
The word "stress" often sets a negative connotation as it is known to be responsible for a wide range of physical and psychological ailments. However, while distress (known as negative stress) is well-documented and widely discussed, there exists a lesser- known, yet profoundly important counterpart: eustress. 
Eustress, a term coined by endocrinologist ​Hans Selye, refers to the positive, motivating, and stimulating form of stress that can drive personal growth, creativity, and enhanced performance. Unlike distress, eustress does not drain us; instead, it fuels our enthusiasm, stimulates our imagination, and helps us meet life's challenges head-on. It is the exhilaration before a big presentation, the adrenaline surge during a thrilling adventure, and the passionate pursuit of a new goal.
Perception has a role in determining whether one perceives stress as eustress or distress. Additionally, individual responses to stress vary widely, influenced by genetics, upbringing, coping strategies, and personal history. Understanding these aspects of stress allows us to manage its impact on our lives.
In this article, we explain the benefits of Eustress, how it differs from distress, and how it can be used to enhance our lives.

The benefits of eustress

According to an article from Heathline, positive stress can empower you to grow personally in these areas:
  • Emotionally: Eustress can lead to positive emotions like contentment, inspiration, motivation, and a flow state.
  • Psychologically: Eustress aids in developing self-efficacy, autonomy, and resilience.
  • Physically: Eustress contributes to physical growth, for instance, by completing challenging workouts.
Embracing Eustress builds resilience. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Here are a few more instances of the advantages of eustress:
  • Resilience: According to, when an individual accept a given stress response, and rethinks it as helpful, rather than detrimental, it builds a positive mental attitude. Over time, this mindset equips one to deal with challenges rather than fear them. This acceptance builds resilience.
  • Motivation: Eustress is a powerful motivator. When embraced, eustress creates a positive outlook on situations. It can lead to setting and achieving goals that might not have been pursued in the absence of stress.
  • Enhanced Decision-Making:  Eustress also helps to improve decision-making by heightening awareness and urgency. When confronted with stressors, individuals often prioritise their choices more effectively, quickly assess available options, and make decisions with a sense of purpose. This acute state of alertness can lead to more decisive and focused decision-making, particularly when swift action is required.
Real-life examples of people succeeding under stress show that it can lead to positive outcomes. From athletes pushing their limits during high-stakes competitions to professionals excelling under tight deadlines or demanding situations, they rise to the occasion, displaying their resilience and adaptability.

Joining a wellness programme like AIA Vitality can provide valuable benefits for managing stress. Engaging in activities with like-minded individuals reduces isolation and provides a support network for sharing experiences. The rewards that members receive for achieving health goals are a bonus to the social connection they gain from participating in the programme.

Finding the balance: Beneficial vs. Harmful Stress

Here are some key indicators to help you distinguish both:
  1. Duration and persistence:
    • Beneficial stress: It is often short-term and time-limited, motivating you to achieve a specific goal or respond to a challenge.
    • Harmful stress: It tends to be chronic, long-lasting, or recurrent, negatively affecting your physical and mental health over an extended period.
  2. Performance and productivity:
    • Beneficial stress:Enhances your performance and productivity, motivating you to achieve your goals and meet deadlines.
    • Harmful stress: Hampers performance, decreasing productivity, errors, and difficulty concentrating.
  3. Emotional response:
    • Beneficial stress:It often results in a sense of accomplishment, excitement, and an eagerness to tackle challenges.
    • Harmful stress:It typically leads to negative emotions such as anxiety, irritability, anger, or feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope.
Train your mind to rethink stress and concentrate on the positive outcomes you want to achieve. (Credit: Shutterstock)


Question: Is there a possibility to turn stress into eustress?
Based on an article from ​BetterUp, here are five guidelines for transforming stress into eustress whenever possible: 
  • Frame it as a constructive challenge you are eager to tackle.
  • Cultivate a ​growth-oriented mindset that embraces change and skill acquisition.
  • Concentrate on a positive outcome you wish to achieve. 
  • Assess your stressful situation when you have the energy and clarity. 
  • Endeavor to find a positive element in any situation whenever possible.
Lastly, redefine your relationship with stress. Start by shifting your perspective to see it as a potential motivator and catalyst for growth. Remember that you have control over your response to stress, even when you cannot control the stressors themselves. Regularly assess your stress levels and adapt your approach to maintain a healthier, more constructive relationship with stress, contributing to your well-being and success.
Lindberg, S. (2019, January 3). Eustress: the good stress. Healthline.  Lindberg, S. (2019, January 3). Eustress: the good stress. Healthline. [online] 
What is eustress? Learn about the positive side of stress. (n.d.). What is eustress? Learn about the positive side of stress. (n.d.). [online] 

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

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